Friday, October 20, 2017

#MeToo, Harvey Weinstein, Sex, and the GOP

The devil has called on Harvey Weinstein, a Democrat, to collect his due. And about time too. For a sample sufficient to kindle the imagination, see Nupita Nyong’o’s account of her interactions with Weinstein.

Across social media, women are suggesting that this scandal is about much more than a few rotten apples. Actress Alyssa Milano, tweeted: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” It hit a nerve. Within days over one million, mostly women, used the hashtag #MeToo, sharing stories of harassment, and joining in solidarity. According to Nadia Khomami, writing in The Guardian: “Facebook said that within 24 hours, 4.7 million people around the world engaged in the #metoo conversation, with over 12m posts, comments, and reactions.” Khomami goes on to quote Caroline Criado-Perez, an activist who successfully lobbied the Bank of England to include women on banknotes: “That’s what #MeToo represents, it’s happened to pretty much every woman you know. I think it’s really important that we don’t allow this to become a story about this one bad guy who did these terrible things because he’s a monster, and to make it clear that actually, it’s not just monsters … it happens in every country every day to all women, and it’s done by friends, colleagues, ‘good guys’ who care about the environment and children and even feminism, supposedly.”

And surely, there is something to this. Women are alluring, mysterious, bewitching, and sex is like a fish hook lodged in the brains of men. In all cultures, and everywhere, the sexes have their dance. Men and women both exercise power over each other, but men are physically stronger, and they are much more often in positions of power in society, and in the workplace, and in positions to abuse that power. Powerful and successful middle-aged men deal with much younger, but alluring women: and nowhere is this more true than in the halls of Congress, and around “rowdy movie sets,” which Arnold Schwartzenegger suggested play by different rules.

Except for oddballs like Mike Pence, and religious sects that systematically keep women down, today in our society, powerful men in powerful positions mix with young, attractive, less experienced, and less powerful women. And as we get older, we learn that all young people are beautiful and good looking. Power, temptation, and opportunity make for a volatile cocktail.

Not many have power like Harvey Weinstein, and not many who do make the devil’s bargain he did, but yes, we are all men. Most men are not predators like Harvey Weinstein.

Weinstein has been tremendously successful. Together with his brother he formed the independent movie production house Miramax. With successes like “Sex Lies and Videotapes, “The Crying Game, “Pulp Fiction,” “The English Patient,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “The King’s Speech,” the company today has a net worth of $700-$800 million, and Harvey Weinstein personally has a net worth of more than $250 million. Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker reports that Weinstein got there not only by being dominant, but by being domineering; not only by having a keen eye for promising actors and scripts, but also by bullying and threatening. Over his career Weinstein managed to inspire both fear and gratitude. He crushed people, he was vindictive. Yet no one has been thanked more at the Oscars than Harvey Weinstein.

At Miramax, it appears, Weinstein set up a culture that tolerated and normalized his sexual predator behavior. In this way, he shares an awful lot with Donald Trump. Miramax was to Weinstein what the GOP is to Donald Trump. One hundred twenty-nine million voters watched the Access Hollywood tape and sixty-three million GOP voters said “That’s our guy. Lets vote for him.”


In any organization, leadership comes from the top. That holds for our country. Let's join together (as in #MeToo) by starting to hold our leadership accountable. If they don't set the right example, let's dump them. 

And, yes, by all means, let's not be bullies, let's not be predators, and let's not abuse positions of power in all walks of life. 

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